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June 28, 2008

Router fun

This entry was posted in the following categories: Technology

I just learned recently that my router isn't working -- at least I hope it isn't working. Here's the story.

My approach to the internet is something like a homesteader. My ISP gives me a single pipe (static IP) and I've been doing everything myself. DNS, web, email. Well, this blog you're reading is hosted by the wonderful people at phpwebhosting.com and I've recently started using a real server for my DNS, and a good thing I did that, too. But I use my home domain as an email namespace for all my solicited commercial email (so if it becomes unsolicited I just delete an entry from my aliases file and never have to hear from them again).

When my server crashed recently, I offloaded my personal email to gmail, but my wife's personal email (she doesn't get much, actually) is still coming here.

Now, what does that have to do with the router? The router works... for outgoing traffic. I mean, I'm actually using it to post this to my blog. But I can't get any incoming SMTP or ssh. I did have to reset and reconfigure it recently, and I suspect it died at that time. I've been through all the configuration menus for it over and over, and everything looks fine.

I found an old router lying around, and tried using that, but it didn't work at all. It's a linksys, so I know it's default internal IP address is but when I try to ping it, it just sits there. Unpinged.

In a brief fit of retro-tech geeking (with a bit of marital told-you-so) I also thought about going the LRP ahh.. route. LRP, for those who don't know, is (was?) a cool idea: take an old PC, throw a couple NIC cards on it, remove the hard drives and just leave a floppy. The floppy contains an extremely stripped down version of Linux that mostly runs off a ram disk. The upshot is that the floppy can be readonly, leaving the system quite reliable.

Now, I have a few old PC's gathering dust in my basement. My wife has been begging me to throw them away, but I haven't yet. So if I can use one of them for this, that's an added bonus (in the marital told-you-so category).

Well, the first PC I grabbed was a semi-recent vintage. But when I went to plug in the power, I noticed that the power supply had been removed (probably back when I had my computer woes a couple months ago.

The second PC I grabbed looked more promising. It was old. No question there. It had a power supply (always nice to find :). It had a floppy drive... ahh.. 5 1/4" though. That should have been a warning sign. It even had two NIC cards in it already! Now all I needed to do was put a 3 1/2" floppy drive in. Easily done, and it saw it.

After I put LRP on a floppy, I went back down to boot it up. That's when I took a closer look at the BIOS screen. 40MHz 486 w. 16 MB RAM. Wouldn't boot the floppy. No doubt LRP includes some pentium instructions.

Later, found another router just sitting there. But no power supply for it. Frustrating.

NEWS FLASH: just found the IDE-USB adapter thingamabob (sorry, USB drive enclosure for IDE drives). Now I can look at my old Windows hard drive and see if it contains the saved config for the router. Maybe if I load that, this'll work after all.

UPDATE: Success! Found the config file right there in my My Documents folder, loaded it up, and the router's working fine!!! Yee haw!

Posted by mlv at June 28, 2008 09:24 AM

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